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DCRP Review: Samsung NV10  

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: October 20, 2006
Last Updated: April 30, 2012

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The NV10 ($399) is one of three models in Samsung's stylish new NV series of digital cameras. This one's a compact camera (though not as small as the NV3) that features a 10 Megapixel CCD, 3X optical zoom lens, digital image stabilization, and a 2.5" LCD display. Those are all pretty run-of-the-mill features.

What really makes the NV10 stand out is its unique Smart Touch user interface. Instead of having buttons for specific purposes all over the camera, the NV10 has 13 "Smart Buttons" around the LCD. The function these buttons perform depend on what icon is above it. If I want to change the resolution, I first press the third button from the left. This brings up the various resolutions, and I use the buttons on the right to select one. It takes a lot of getting used to, but it is a real time saver compared to the menus usually found on digital cameras (in most cases)

In playback mode these buttons work as a sort of "scroll wheel" -- just run your fingers across the button buttons to move between photos. The problem is, the buttons are too sensitive, often sending you racing past the photo you want. When you use the playback zoom feature, the buttons are not responsive enough, making this feature very sluggish. Still other times the buttons ignore your finger altogether, and nothing happens.

I put together this one minute video clip showing the Smart Touch interface in action. You can see the unresponsiveness that I just mentioned a few times in it. Here goes:

Of course, having a cool interface doesn't make much of a difference if a camera can't take a decent photo. Find out how the NV10 performs in our review, which starts right now!

What's in the Box?

The NV10 has an average bundle. Inside the box you'll find:

  • The 10.1 effective Megapixel Samsung NV10 digital camera
  • SLB-0837B rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Wrist strap
  • Camera case
  • USB cable
  • AC-to-USB converter
  • A/V cable
  • CD-ROM featuring Digimax Master and drivers
  • 72 page camera manual (printed)

As is the case with many cameras these days, the NV10 has built-in memory instead of having a memory card included in the box. The NV10 has 20MB of onboard memory, which holds just three photos at the highest quality setting. That means that you'll want to get a memory card right away, which drives up the purchase price of the camera a bit. The NV10 uses Secure Digital and MultiMedia (MMC) cards, and I'd suggest a 1GB card as a good place to start. Based on my usage, I don't think that a high speed memory card is needed to get the most out of the NV10.

The NV10 uses the same SLB-0837 lithium-ion battery as a few of Samsung's other cameras. This battery packs 3.1 Wh into its compact form, which isn't very much these days. Unfortunately, Samsung doesn't use the CIPA standard for their battery life numbers, so it's hard to compare it to the competition (which does test with the CIPA standard). So, have a grain or two of salt before looking at this chart:

Camera Battery life, LCD on
(CIPA standard)
Canon PowerShot SD900 230 shots
Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 360 shots
Fuji FinePix F30 580 shots
HP Photosmart R967 160 shots
Kodak EasyShare V705 150 shots
Nikon Coolpix P4 200 shots
Nikon Coolpix S9 190 shots
Olympus Stylus 1000 280 shots
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX50 300 shots
Pentax Optio A20 150 shots
Pentax Optio T20 130 shots
Samsung Digimax NV3 200 shots *
Samsung Digimax NV10 180 shots *
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N2 300 shots
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T50 400 shots

* Not calculated using the CIPA standard

Battery life numbers are provided by the camera manufacturers

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the battery numbers Samsung provides are fairly close to what the CIPA numbers would be. With that in mind, it's pretty safe to say that the NV10 gets below average battery life in this class.

Like all ultra-compact cameras, the NV10's batteries are expensive ($40), and you can't use an off-the-shelf battery when it runs out of juice. Since the NV10's battery life isn't the greatest, it's probably a good idea to buy a spare.

The NV10 has a rather unique way of charging its battery. All you need to do is plug the included USB cable into the bottom of the camera and then connect it to your computer. A special adapter also lets you use a standard power plug, and you can also use the optional camera dock that I'll mention in a moment. Whichever way you do it, it takes between 130 and 150 minutes to fully charge the SLB-0837.

As is the case with all compact cameras, there's a built-in lens cover on the NV10, so there's no lens cap to worry about.

There are just a few accessories for the NV10. First up is a camera dock known as the SCC-NV2 (price not available). The cradle/dock offers USB and A/V outputs, and it also charges the battery while its inside the camera. There's also a wireless remote control available, and I don't have pricing or availability for that either. And that's about it in the accessories department!

Samsung includes their Digimax Reader software with the NV10. While not the most attractive or powerful software on the market, it gets the job done. Digimax Master is for Windows only -- there is no Mac software included with the camera (iPhoto will work fine, though).

The main screen of DM has the usual thumbnail view, and from this screen you can rotate, print, and e-mail photos. As you'd expect these days, the thumbnail size can be adjusted.

Double-clicking on an image opens the edit window. If you're editing a JPEG you'll find all kinds of tools on the left side of the screen, including an "auto enhance" option. There are also tools available for putting type (or drawings) on top of a photo.

While the NV series of cameras are new and improved, the manual is not. Expect a cluttered layout and a lot of "notes" on each page. In other words, it's not very user friendly.

Look and Feel

All three of the new NV-series cameras have two things in common: they're black, and they feel like they've been carved out of a solid piece of metal. The NV10 is compact (but not as small as the NV3) and extremely well put together. There are just a few buttons dedicated to specific camera functions, and they're all easy to reach. The rest of the buttons are the Smart Buttons that I told you about at the start of the review.

Now, here's a look at how the NV10 compares to similar cameras in terms of size and weight:

Camera Dimensions (W x H x D, excluding protrusions) Volume (bulk) Mass (empty)
Canon PowerShot SD900 3.6 x 2.4 x 1.1 in. 9.5 cu in. 165 g
Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 3.6 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 7.5 cu in. 139 g
Fujifilm FinePix F30 3.6 x 2.2 x 1.1 in. 8.7 cu in. 155 g
HP Photosmart R967 3.8 x 2.4 x 1.0 in. 9.1 cu in. 170 g
Kodak EasyShare V705 4.0 x 2.0 x 0.8 in. 6.4 cu in. 124 g
Nikon Coolpix P4 3.6 x 2.4 x 1.2 in. 10.4 cu in. 170 g
Nikon Coolpix S9 3.8 x 2.3 x 0.8 in. 7 cu in. 115 g
Olympus Stylus 1000 3.8 x 2.2 x 0.9 in. 7.5 cu in. 140 g
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX50 3.9 x 2.3 x 1.0 in. 9 cu in. 151 g
Pentax Optio A20 3.5 x 2.1 x 0.9 in. 6.6 cu in. 125 g
Pentax Optio T20 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.8 in. 6.8 cu in. 135 g
Samsung NV10 3.8 x 2.4 x 0.7 in. 6.4 cu in. 149 g
Samsung NV3 3.7 x 2.2 x 0.7 in. 5.7 cu in. 142 g
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N2 3.8 x 2.4 x 0.9 in. 8.2 cu in. 151 g
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T50 3.8 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 7.9 cu in. 130 g

While not quite the smallest camera out there, the NV10 is still quite small. It should fit into most of you pockets with ease.

Alright, let's start our in-depth tour of the NV10 now, beginning with the front.

Despite having a pretty cool design, the NV10 has a rather ordinary lens. This is a F2.8-5.1 (yes, kind of slow on the tele end) 3X zoom lens which carries the Schneider-Kreuznach label. The focal range of the lens is 7.4 - 22.2 mm, which is equivalent to 35 - 105 mm. The lens is not threaded.

Directly above the lens is the pop-up flash, which is raised electronically. It's pretty powerful, giving the NV10 better than average flash strength. The working range of the flash is 0.4 - 4.5 m at wide-angle and 0.5 - 2.5 m at telephoto, both at Auto ISO. You cannot attach an external flash to the NV10.

To the upper-left of the lens is the receiver for the optional remote control. That little red thing to the northwest is the self-timer lamp.

Looking now to the upper-right of the lens we find the AF-assist lamp. This lamp is used by the camera as a focusing aid in low light situations.

The last thing to see on the front of the camera is the microphone, located to the lower-right of the lens.

On the back of the NV10 you'll find a large 2.5" display. This screen has 230,000 pixels, so everything is nice and sharp. I found outdoor visibility to be quite good, though low light viewing was just average, as the screen doesn't brighten very much in those situations.

As you can probably tell, there is no optical viewfinder on the NV10. In fact, none of the NV-series cameras have one. Whether this is a problem depends on you. Some people love'em, others could care less. I fall into the first camp myself.

There sure are a lot of buttons on the back of the NV10, but most of them are for the Smart Touch feature that I already described. The only function-specific buttons are the zoom controller, back button, and playback button. The zoom controller moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in just 1.1 seconds. I counted eight steps in the NV10's 3X zoom range.

There are just a few things to see on the top of the NV10. That button with the blue ring around it (Samsung loves those) is the power button. To its right is the speaker, followed by the shutter release button.

Next up is the mode dial, which has the following options:

Option Function
Auto record mode Point-and-shoot, most menu options locked up
Program mode Still point-and-shoot, but with full menu access
Full manual (M) mode Lets you choose both the aperture and shutter speed at the same time. Shutter speed range of 15 - 1/1500 sec. Aperture range of F2.8 - F13.1. See below for more.
Advanced Shake Reduction (ASR) A digital anti-shake feature; see below for more
Special effect mode Add frames to your photos, create an animated GIF, or combine up to four photos into one.
Scene mode You pick the situation and the camera uses the right settings. Choose from night scene, portrait, children, landscape, close-up, text, sunset, dawn, backlight, firework, and beach & snow
Movie mode More on this later
Photo gallery mode Fancy playback mode that lets you create slideshows

While the NV10 has a full manual exposure mode, it's somewhat crippled. That's because you can only choose from two aperture values at any one time. For example, at wide-angle you have a choice of F2.8 and F7.1, and nothing in-between. Still, I guess this is better than nothing at all.

If you don't want any manual controls then you can also use one of the many scene modes on the NV10.

The NV10 has the same Advanced Shake Reduction feature as the NV3. While cameras with true optical image stabilization move the a lens element or even the CCD itself to compensate for the effects of "camera shake", the NV10 boosts the ISO in order to get a faster shutter speed, and then digitally processes the image to reduce any blurring.

It's hard for me to illustrate how well the ASR feature works, since I can't just turn it on and off like you can with optical image stabilization. Well, you can, but then you have no control over exposure, making it hard to take the same shot with and without ASR. Nevertheless, I did take this telephoto shot with and without it, and you can see that it did make a difference:

ASR off, ISO 100

ASR on, camera chose ISO 200

Yes, the shot on the bottom is indeed sharper than the one on the top. It also has a greenish cast, and there's quite a bit of noisy as well, though you can't really see that in the downsized version above. There's a noticeable wait between shots when using ASR, so I think it's better just to raise the ISO manually, which will increase the noise, but won't make you wait for the ASR processing after a shot is taken.

The NV10 has some fun special effects, including color filters, compositing, and virtual frames that you can put around your subject (see above).

Nothing to see here.

There's nothing on the other side of the NV10 either. The lens is at the full telephoto position in this shot.

On the bottom of the camera you'll find the battery/memory card compartment, a metal tripod mount, and the dock connector. The door over the battery/memory slots is of average quality. Do note that you won't be able to swap memory cards while the camera is on a tripod.

The dock connector is where you'll plug in the USB cable (which can go into a computer or into a power plug via the included adapter) and the A/V cable. The NV10 supports the USB 2.0 High Speed standard for fast data transfer to your Mac or PC.

The included SLB-0837 battery is shown at right.

Using the Samsung NV10

Record Mode

It takes about two seconds for the NV10 to extend its lens and "warm up" before you can start taking pictures. That's about average.

No histograms to be found here

Focus speeds were good, but not spectacular. The NV10 typically took between 0.2 and 0.4 seconds to lock focus, with just slightly longer delays at the telephoto end of the lens. I found low light focusing to be very good, thanks to the camera's AF-assist lamp.

Shutter lag wasn't noticeable when the shutter speed was fast, but when you're down near what I call "tripod territory" there was a slight delay before the photo was actually taken.

Shot-to-shot speeds were very good, with a delay of a little over one second between shots. The only exception to this is when you're using the ASR feature, as this may add a 2-3 second delay between shots.

There's no way to delete a photo while it's being saved to the memory card. You must enter playback mode and delete it from there.

There are a ton of image quality options available on the NV10. They include:

Resolution Quality # Images on 20MB onboard memory # images on 1GB card (optional)
3648 x 2736
Super fine 3 196
Fine 7 380
Normal 10 556
3136 x 2352
Super fine 5 264
Fine 9 504
Normal 13 728
2688 x 2016
Super fine 6 352
Fine 12 668
Normal 17 948
2240 x 1680
Super fine 9 496
Fine 16 916
Normal 23 1276
1024 x 768
Super fine 32 1804
Fine 47 2764
Normal 56 3360

See why you want a larger memory card? 20MB of memory just doesn't cut it anymore.

The NV10 doesn't support the RAW or TIFF image formats, nor would I expect it to.

Images are named SNC1####.JPG, where # = 0001 - 9999. The file numbering is maintained even if you replace and/or format memory cards.

Now, onto the menus!

Browsing the menus Making a selection

As I mentioned at the start of this review, the NV10 has a rather unconventional user interface (to say the least).There are two menus on the bottom row (one of which is hidden by default), and another on the right side of the screen. By default, the menu icons are always displayed on the LCD, which can be annoying when you're trying to frame a photo. Fear not, though -- taking a trip to the setup menu and setting the OSD setting to "hide" will take care of that problem.

Since the menus aren't organized in the typical hierarchical fashion, the list below doesn't match the actual experience of using the NV10. Ready? Here we go:

  • Color tone (variable) - only available in the auto modes
  • Brightness (variable) - also available only in the auto modes
  • Focus type (Normal, macro) - there's an auto macro option in the scene and auto modes
  • Flash mode (Auto, auto w/redeye reduction, fill flash, slow sync, off)
  • Image size (see above chart)
  • Drive (Single, continuous, high speed, motion capture, AE bracketing) - see below
  • Metering (Multi, spot, center)
  • Sharpness (Soft, normal, vivid)
  • Effect (Normal, black & white, sepia, blue, red, green, negative, custom) - only available in special effect mode; that last option lets you manually adjust the levels of red, green, and blue in your photo
  • Quality (see chart above)
  • Self-timer/remote control (Off, 2 or 10 sec, double, remote control)
  • Voice recording (Off, recording, memo) - the former lets you record audio until the memory card is full; the latter adds a 10 sec sound clip to a photo
  • White balance (Auto, daylight, cloudy, fluorescent H, fluorescent L, tungsten, custom) - the last option lets you use a white or gray card for accurate color in any lighting
  • ISO (Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1000)
  • Exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV in 1/3EV increments)

Adjusting exposure compensation

The color tone, brightness, and exposure compensation controls all work in the same way. A "slider" is shown on the LCD, and you move your fingers across the bottom Smart Buttons in order to make adjustments. It doesn't always work too well, though, as the buttons don't always respond to your touch.

There are several continuous shooting modes on the NV10. In regular continuous mode, the camera will keep shooting at 0.7 frames/second until you run out of memory. The frame rate is extra slow because the camera refocuses between each shot. For faster shooting you'll want to use the high speed mode, which takes three shots in a row at 1.7 frames/second. Unfortunately, the LCD is blacked out while the camera is shooting, making it darn near impossible to track a moving subject. All-in-all, a pretty disappointing set of continuous modes.

There's also an auto exposure bracketing feature, which takes three shots in a row, each with a different exposure (-0.5EV, 0EV, +0.5EV). If you've got the space on your memory card, then this is a great way to ensure a properly exposed photo.

The setup menu is more traditional than the record menu. The options you'll find here include:

  • OSD settings [record mode] (Full, basic, hide, LCD save)
  • OSD settings [playback mode] (Full, basic, hide)
  • File numbering (Series, reset)
  • Language (way too many to list)
  • Format (Internal memory or card)
  • Date & time (Set, format)
  • Date imprint (Off, date, date & time)
  • LCD (Dark, normal, bright)
  • AF lamp (on/off)
  • Auto power off (1, 3, 5, 10 mins)
  • Quick View (Off, 0.5, 1, 3 secs)
  • Startup image (Off, logo, user image)
  • Sound volume (Off, low, medium, high)
  • Beep sound (Off, sound 1-3)
  • Start sound (Off, sound 1-3)
  • Shutter sound (Off, sound 1-3)
  • Format memory/card
  • Copy to card
  • Video out (NTSC, PAL)
  • USB (Computer, printer)
  • Reset - back to defaults

Well enough about menus, let's do photo tests now.

The NV10 turned in a pretty solid performance with our macro test subject. The colors look good, and the subject is nice and sharp. I do see some noise -- more than I'd expect at ISO 100 -- especially on the red cloak.

The minimum distance to your subject in macro mode is 4 cm at the wide end of the lens, and 50 cm at the tele end.

Though it too is a bit noisy, the NV10 also produced a good night scene on a clear night in San Francisco (finally). I put the camera into full manual mode in order to get a shutter speed low enough to bring in enough light, and the NV10 delivered. The buildings are nice and sharp, though there is some strong purple fringing to be found here.

Okay, I have two ISO tests for you in this review. The first one shows how the camera performs in low light, and it uses the night scene you see above. Here we go:

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 1000

The NV10 is already starting out pretty noisy (being a 10MP camera, this should come as no surprise), and things get worse rapidly. Details start to get chipped away at ISO 200, and once you hit ISO 400 it's bad news. Not only do details disappear, but there's a noticeable change in color accuracy as well. This is not a camera you want to be using in low light!

We'll see how the NV10 performed at high ISOs in better lighting in a bit.

There's mild to moderate barrel distortion at the wide end of the NV10's lens. While I didn't find vignetting (dark corners) to be a problem on this camera, you will encounter some blurring in the corners, as this photo illustrates.

Compact cameras usually have a redeye problem, and the NV10's is pretty serious. Yes, we're talking demon eyes! While your mileage may vary, I'd expect that most of your people pictures will have some red eyes in it.

Time for ISO test number two. This one is taken in our studio, and the results can be compared with other cameras that I've reviewed over the years. While the crops below give you an idea as to the noise level at each ISO setting, viewing the full size images is always a good idea.

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 1000

Things aren't too bad at ISO 100 -- the NV10 is slightly noisier than the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N2, but not by much. ISO 200 is just a bit worse, though still very usable at large print sizes. When we get to ISO 400 we start to see detail loss -- the DSC-N2 is still very clean at this point (the LX2 not so much). Things go downhill after that, with the ISO 800 and 1000 shots looking pretty blotchy. If you buy the NV10, you'll want to keep that ISO at 100 or 200, saving the higher settings only for situations in which you're really desperate.

I wasn't overly impressed with the real world photos that I took with the Samsung NV10. While exposure and color were generally good, the NV10's photos were on the noisy side (even at ISO 100), with soft corners and purple fringing. To see what I'm talking about, all you need to do is compare the NV10 gallery to the one from the Sony DSC-N2 (also a 10MP compact camera). To be frank, the DSC-N2 wipes the floor with the NV10 in all respects.

As usual, I urge you to take a look at our photo gallery, printing the pictures if you can. Then you'll be able to decide for yourself if the NV10's photo quality meets your expectations.

Movie Mode

The NV10 has a very nice movie mode. You can record video at 640 x 480 (30 fps) with sound until the memory card fills up. The onboard memory holds just under a minute of video, so you'll want a large memory card for longer movies. With a 1GB SD card you can hold about 45 minutes -- thank you DivX codec! To extend recording time even more, you can either cut the frame rate to 15 fps, lower the resolution to 320 x 240, or both!

The camera has a unique feature that lets you pause recording by pressing one of the Smart Touch buttons. When you're ready to continue recording just press the button again and away you go. Everything is saved in a single movie file.

The NV10 is one of a small group of cameras that lets you use the optical zoom while filming. The catch is that the microphone is turned off while the zoom is operating, which is a bit awkward in practice.

You can use many of the same digital effects in movie mode that you could in the regular still shooting mode. A trim function lets you remove unwanted sections of your movie, and you can also grab a frame from your movie and save it as a still image, if you'd like..

Here's a sample movie that I took at the 640 x 480 / 30 fps setting. Mac users may need to download the DivX codec in order to view this sample. Does this clip look as choppy to you as it does to me?

Click to play movie (4.8 MB, 640 x 480, 30 fps, AVI format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.

Playback Mode

The NV10's playback mode is a little more advanced that usual. Basic features here include as slideshows (more on that in a bit), DPOF print marking, thumbnail view, image protection, and zoom and scroll are all here. The zoom and scroll feature lets you enlarge a photo and then move around in it, but the scrolling is wayyyyy too slow (kind of the opposite of moving through photos).

The camera lets you rotate, resize, and crop photos easily. You can also apply the same digital filters that you could in record mode. A motion GIF feature lets you take a bunch of photos and turn them into a single animated GIF, with a frame rate of 2 or 5 fps.

The camera also has an album feature (available only with the mode dial set to Photo Gallery), which lets you organize photos into one of these preset categories: personal, family, friends, and events. It is here that you can also use the advanced slideshow feature, which has fancy transitions and your choice of background music.

As you'd expect on a camera with internal memory, there's a copy tool to move photos to a memory card.

By default, the camera doesn't show much information about your photos. Go into the playback menu and turn on "full OSD info" and you'll see a bit more.

The NV10 moves between photos very quickly -- too quickly. The Smart Buttons are so sensitive that it's very easy to go rocketing past the photo you want. Things would've been so much simpler with a four-way controller. I can dream, right?

How Does it Compare?

The Samsung NV10 is a compact camera that has some hits and some misses. On the positive side, it's a very well built and stylish compact camera, with a good feature set. However, its photo quality and battery life are disappointing, two things which are more important than how cool a camera looks in your hand. The NV10's most notable feature also gets a 50/50 rating from me, and that's its new user interface. While it is certainly clever and time-saving, it was also very frustrating at times, making me wish that it had a regular four-way controller like every other camera.

Like the other cameras in Samsung's NV series, the NV10 is black-colored, and it feels like it was cut from a solid chunk of metal. While previous Samsung cameras felt like plastic toys, the NV10's build quality is at the top of its class. While it's not the smallest camera out there, it's still small enough to fit in almost any pocket with ease. The NV10 has a pretty standard (although mediocre) 3X zoom lens, and a large and sharp 2.5" LCD display. While the LCD is easy to see outdoors, its low light visibility could be better. The camera does not have an optical viewfinder.

Undoubtedly the biggest feature on the NV10 is its new Smart Touch interface. Instead of function-specific buttons, the camera has thirteen "soft buttons", whose function varies depending on the situation. The buttons are touch sensitive, so in some situations you need only brush your fingers over them to achieve the desired effect. This unique user interface sometimes simplifies using the camera, and other times complicates it. Changing things like resolution and metering are easier than ever, while other things (such as deleting a photo) are more of a chore than they would be if the camera had a dedicated button for it. Sometimes the UI was very frustrating. The buttons on the right side of the LCD are right where your thumb rests, making them easy to press accidentally. When playing back photos, the buttons are too sensitive, making it very easy to race past the photo you're looking for. Other times the buttons aren't sensitive enough, such as with the playback zoom feature, which is very sluggish. Still, the Smart Touch UI is interesting, and I look forward to seeing future revisions of it. And I can't stress this enough: try the NV10 before you buy -- as you may or may not like the interface!

The NV10 has a mix of automatic and manual controls. On the point-and-shoot side you've got scene modes, plus some fun digital effects, like color filters and photo frames. There's a photo album feature that lets you put your pictures into four different categories, and an enhanced slideshow with music and transitions. There's also an "Advanced Shake Reduction" feature, though I didn't find it to be terribly impressive. On the manual control side, you can adjust shutter speed and aperture (though you can only choose between two of the latter at any one time) plus white balance. Finally, all users will like the NV10's VGA movie mode, which uses the efficient DivX codec. My sample movie was choppy, though I'm thinking that this was a fluke.

Camera performance was a mixed bag. The NV10's two second startup time is a bit slower than average, though it does better in terms of focusing and shutter lag. The camera focused well in low light, thanks to its AF-assist lamp. Shot-to-shot delays were generally very short, except if you're using the ASR feature, which makes you wait 3-4 seconds between photos -- another reason why it's not worth using. Battery life was below average, and the continuous shooting mode was disappointing as well. The high speed continuous mode blacks out the LCD, making it impossible to see your subject while shooting, while the regular mode is just plain slow.

Photo quality on the NV10 was disappointing when compared to that other 10 Megapixel compact cameras (namely the Canon A640 and the Sony DSC-N2). While photos were well exposed most of the time and colors were accurate, the NV10's photos are noisy, even at ISO 100. And forget higher ISOs -- things go downhill quickly. The NV10 also has significant corner blurriness (worse than your typical compact camera) and moderate purple fringing. Redeye was also a big problem (though, to be fair, it is with most cameras in this class). Most of these issues won't matter if you're making small prints, but if there are cameras with lower noise and less corner softness, then why would you choose the NV10?

The last two issues I want to raise have to do with the NV10's bundle. Mac users are left out in the cold in terms of software, as the supplied Digimax Master product is for WIndows only. And finally, the camera manual leaves much to be desired.

While it's an interesting camera with some nice features, ultimately I was left feeling a bit cold by the Samsung NV10. I like its build quality and some of its features, but its photo quality is lacking compared to other cameras in its class, and that's why you buy a digital camera in the first place, right? The bottom line here is that there are better cameras for your money out there, and I've listed some of them below.

What I liked:

  • Compact, very stylish and well built body
  • Large, high resolution 2.5" LCD display (though see issues below)
  • Unique user interface
  • Several manual controls
  • Fun special effects, plenty of scene modes
  • AF-assist lamp, very good low light focusing
  • Nice movie mode; optical zoom can be used during recording (though sound recording stops)
  • USB 2.0 High Speed support
  • Optional remote control
  • Battery can be charged by your computer (over USB)

What I didn't care for:

  • Noisy images with substantial corner blurring; some purple fringing
  • Redeye a big problem
  • Unique user interface; more specifically, flaky touch sensitive buttons, too fast scrolling when viewing images in playback mode, and too slow in playback zoom mode
  • Below average battery life
  • Unimpressive continuous shooting modes
  • Low light LCD visibility could be better
  • No optical viewfinder
  • Using ASR (advanced shake reduction) feature slows down shot-to-shot speeds dramatically, and it doesn't help that much
  • Can't swap memory cards while on a tripod
  • No Mac software included
  • Lousy camera manual

Some other cameras in the compact, high resolution group include the Canon PowerShot SD900 Digital ELPH, Casio Exilim EX-Z1000, Fuji FinePix F30, HP Photosmart R967, Kodak EasyShare V705, Nikon Coolpix P4 and S9, Olympus Stylus 1000, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX50, Pentax Optio A20 and T20, Samsung Digimax NV3, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N2 and DSC-T50.

As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the NV10 and its competitors before you buy!

Photo Gallery

See how the photos turned out in our gallery!

Want another opinion?

You'll find more reviews of the NV10 at Digital Photography Review, PhotographyBlog, and Pocket-lint.

Feedback & Discussion

If you have a question about this review, please send them to Jeff. Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for a personal recommendation or technical support.

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